It is so important to make a practice of this. At least once a year, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 877-322-8228, to obtain your credit report from each of the three reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You should consistently be on the lookout for unsuspecting items that creep up that could damage your rating. If your credit score is bad, it could keep you from buying a house, a car, taking out a loan, obtain a credit card or interfere with getting a job. To make matters worse, you might not know about your bad credit score, until the precise moment when you desperately need it the most.
Perhaps you are one of those lucky people, who are assured in knowing your credit score is exceptional. You pay all your bills on time, have had good credit for some time, pay more than the minimum balance due, etc. Still, there are things that may happen that can jeopardize your credit rating. An administrator may err in their reporting. A payment might have been owed that you have long since forgotten about that is now rearing its ugly head. Worse yet, identity thieves may have somehow gotten access to your bank account, credit card or social security number. All these things could happen, without your knowledge. Unless you check your credit report on an annual basis, you may not learn of these glitches in your history, until the time comes where having good credit is crucial.
Should you find a problem with your report, here are some recommendations:
- Write a letter stating what the discrepancy is, why you believe it to be in error, and ask that it be amended or expunged.
- It is recommended that you circle the items in error on the report and include with the letter. Make a copy of both and keep for your records.
- Send this to the credit bureaus that need to make the change through “certified mail” with a “return receipt requested”. This way, you have record that the mailing was received, a date and a time.
- Then, you must contact any creditors involved and go through the same correspondence-process, as mentioned above.
As far as indisputable bad credit, only time can remove that from the report. This is what the FTC has to say on this matter:
“A credit reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. There is no time limit on reporting: information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.”
To protect yourself from becoming a victim of bad credit, of course, you need to pay your bills on time. Apart from that, take the time to request your free annual credit report, either by phone or website. It doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t take a whole lot of time. Make sure the numbers are accurate, your address, name, and other pertinent information. You may be in for a few surprises. Unless you take the first BIG step in asking for the report, you may never know, until it’s too late. Don’t delay!
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